People on board
DAVEY, Dorothy Ann Womack née Balls
Dorothy Ann Womack Balls was born in 1896 in Beccles, Suffolk to John Womack Balls and Fanny Spatchett. She was the youngest of their five children, one of whom died in infancy. John Balls worked for the Great Eastern Railway Company, initially as a Porter and Signalman, and was promoted Inspector in Yarmouth in 1900. The family then lived in Anson Road and they were still at that address when he retired in 1923 after fifty years’ service.
In the 1911 census Dorothy, then aged fourteen, gave her occupation as ‘Millinery Assistant’ while her three older sisters were ‘Drapery Assistants’. In 1918 she married in Yarmouth to Rupert Arnold Davey, a Lieutenant in Alexandra, Princess of Wales Own (Yorkshire Regiment). It is not clear why they were in Ireland in October 1918 but they were returning to England on the 10th and were travelling on RMS Leinster. He told their story to the Sunday Mirror, published on the 13th. He and Dorothy had got a place in one of the few lifeboats that were successfully launched but “hardly had they touched the water when a second torpedo struck” and they saw the ship go down head first. They picked up two people from a raft and attempted to reach another. He recounted that there were four women in their boat, “one of them was a girl of wonderful pluck” who baled and took her turn with an oar. They were eventually rescued by a destroyer.
Dorothy and Rupert settled in London after the war and they had two children, Ethel in 1920 and Edward in 1924. In the 1939 Register they were living in Wembley and Rupert was a ‘Textile Director’. He died in 1951 and Dorothy lived until 1975.